It’s Normal to Still Be Counting Ballots

Why has the election been called by the media when some states are still tabulating ballots? That’s actually normal. Let’s talk about why.

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

How Media Calls Work

News outlets call a race once the winner is clear. They don’t wait until every vote is counted and the result certified — that’s the job of county and state officials. The media’s job is to communicate the result to the public once it’s obvious. They make their (non-binding) projections when they are certain that the remaining ballots won’t change the result of the race — and if they’re wrong, their reputation is on the line. They decide when to make calls in a few ways.

What About This Year?

Though the 2020 election will probably not come down to Pennsylvania, the race call did. Once Pennsylvania was called, news outlets projected that Biden had more than 270 electoral votes, which meant he’d won. The votes still being counted were mostly in Philadelphia (which leans blue), and they were absentee-by-mail ballots, which leaned Democratic this year because the Republican urged his supporters to vote in person and the Democrat urged his supporters to vote however they were most comfortable.

What’s Next?

There will be recounts and court cases and perhaps even some investigations to see if any tangible evidence can be found of widespread voter fraud. All of those challenges will be resolved by December 8.

Writer and editor. Probably never grew out of being a debate kid. Wants to see evidence.

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